(That's how us cool people say: Spoilers)
When The Dark Knight ended I immediately couldn't wait for the third film to come out, and as soon as the credits rolled on The Dark Knight Rises, I immediately knew why. It was not simply because Dark Knight was a brilliant, exciting film, it wasn't the fact that I knew the third film would be great...it was because the story wasn't finished. For this reason I have also found an answer to my naive prediction that the third film 'wouldn't be better than The Dark Knight'. And it's not. It's not...because the films are incomparable to one another.
Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises are, in many ways, a crystal-clear example of what a trilogy should be: one story. Each of these films are imperative to one another's success and the story wouldn't be complete without all three. Batman Begins represents, obviously, the origin of the hero, the story, the world of the film. The Dark Knight showcases the heyday of Batman in Gotham City. For this reason, it will probably remain the favorite of most fans, probably myself included. It includes The Joker, Batman's archenemy, who I have no doubt would have appeared in the third film if not for Heath Ledger's death (just as Scarecrow appears in all three films).
As a die-hard Batman fan, I know that The Joker Vs Batman is the ultimate villain-hero matchup. So putting it in the middle of the story was exactly where it belonged, because he was the heart of what Batman fought against. But Tom Hardy's Bane delivered an excellent concluding punch to the series in The Dark Knight Rises. The third and final film concluded Bruce Wayne's time as Batman in Gotham , and left his character, as well as those of Gordon, Fox and Alfred fully developed, and beloved.
So which is the best one? I don't believe anyone can ever claim they think one is 'the best', only which part of the story they like the most. But what you're here to see is my thoughts on the finale, so let's get to it.
I thought it was a brilliant final chapter to the story. I don't think I need to review it as a standalone film, because never pretends to act as one. If you didn't see the first two, you were not ready, or meant, to see Rises. If you were ready, however, Christopher Nolan was ready to satisfy your anticipation. The Dark Knight Rises was three hours of beautifully constructed character development and engaging storytelling. The engaging performances by each member of the cast created an incredibly inspiring ensamble of actors. Tom Hardy once again shined, doing justice to the famous Batman foe, Bane. The iconic comic frame of Bane breaking Batman's spine was also included in the film, even with his phrase of 'I will break you'.
Marion Cotillard also brought her incredible talent to the set, and was incredibly deceiving, playing all twisted aspects of Tali al Ghul to a tee. Also debuting in the trilogy was Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, who is never once referred to as Catwoman. I had my doubts about her, I admit, but I was wrong. But Joseph Gordon Levitt once again might have stolen the show. Don't get me wrong, Christian Bale turned in another fantastic performance. I think, of the three, we saw the most range of his Bruce Wayne in this film and he ended his tenure in Gotham beautifully. But Levitt, who is always a joy to watch was a surprise to us all, and although he wasn't playing Dick Grayson or Jason Todd, the revelation of his first name being 'Robin' is an unmistakable reference to The Boy Wonder. Nolan said the character of Robin would never appear in his trilogy, and he didn't. For the most part, Nolan never altered the Batman universe too extremely. But making Detective Blake an orphan, and named Robin, set him up in the same fashion both Robins were for their tenure as The Dark Knight. (Fun fact, Blake was becoming Batman at the end of the film, not Robin. Just saying.)
The fights, the costumes, the effects...I really was blown away by it all. The atmosphere they created with the overtaken Gotham City was powerfully striking and shouted echoes of 1984 and Brave New World (and Nazi Germany/France for that matter).
The pacing, the music, the atmosphere...it was great. A perfect ending to a wonderfully entertaining story. Hats off to the Nolan Trilogy family on an incredible achievement. If they get the record, the deserve it.